Where Things Stand: The Special Prisoners

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, prepares to speak to the media before departing his Manhattan apartment for prison on May 06, 2019 in New York City.... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 06: Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, prepares to speak to the media before departing his Manhattan apartment for prison on May 06, 2019 in New York City. Cohen is due to report to a federal prison in Otisville, New York, where he will begin serving a three-year sentence for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and other crimes. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
April 17, 2020 12:05 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Michael Cohen was never going to have to endure the typical prison experience, even if a pandemic never struck the globe. Even if life as we knew it never came to a halt.

When the President’s former lawyer and fixer was sentenced to three years in prison for campaign finance violations and tax evasion, he was placed in one of the cushiest prisons in the country — Otisville, located just outside New York City in the Catskills. It’s known for housing big white collar criminals, like Martha Stewart, former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland and Billy McFarland, the notorious mastermind behind the deliciously fraudulent Fyre Festival.

But now that the coronavirus has struck the U.S. in massive numbers and is spreading like lightning through prisons across the country, white collar criminals like Cohen have been begging for additional special treatment. And just today, Cohen got his wish. According to new reports, Cohen, who has served less than a year of his sentence, will be released and allowed to serve the rest of his sentence from home. Aside from trips to the grocery store and the occasional runs we free folks enjoy, this doesn’t sound too different than what the rest of Cohen’s fellow New Yorkers are enduring at the moment.

Other big name criminals like Paul Manafort have been requesting similar accommodations to avoid the virus. Last month, attorneys for disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) requested that the former lawmaker be allowed to serve his 11 months in home confinement rather than a federal prison.

While some states have freed certain classes of offenders to curb the spread of the virus behind bars, it is not being done quickly enough to save lives, according to experts. That is, unless, you’re one of the high profile, powerful few, like Cohen.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Tierney Sneed is covering news that a federal judge rejected Roger Stone’s bid for a new trial. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who has been presiding over Stone’s case from the start, gave an opinion on Thursday evening, rejecting Stone’s bid as well as the conspiracy theories about bias on the jury that Stone and President Trump were pushing for weeks.

Matt Shuham is rounding up the various commentary from TV doctors on Fox News who’ve recently been discussing the tradeoff between reopening the economy and possible additional deaths.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a string of cancellations for social and athletic events in the city through the month of May. This follows a directive from the governor on Thursday that public life in New York remain on “pause” until at least May 15.

Despite enduring protests against her statewide stay-at-home order, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) maintained social distancing is the best way to combat the spread of the virus during an in interview with “Good Morning America” on Friday. “It’s better to be six feet apart right now than six feet under,” she said. We will continue to monitor these protests, which have been largely organized by ring-wingers and anti-government extremists.

Today’s Rundown

4:00 p.m. ET: Trump will have a phone call with faith leaders.

5:00 p.m. ET: The White House will hold its coronavirus task force press briefing.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Sen. Kennedy Admits COVID-19 Will Spread Faster If Economy Reopens, Says It Should Reopen Anyway — Cristina Cabrera

What We Are Reading

Vox Media And New York Magazine Slashing Pay, Furloughing Staff Amid Coronavirus — Maxwell Tani

Princess Anne Opens Up About Her Lifetime As A Royal — Katie Nicholl

Coronavirus Could Complicate Trump’s Path To Reelection — Jonathan Lemire, Nicholas Riccardi and Thomas Beaumont

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30